Updated: Mar 7, 2019
Some of us have every intention of preparing properly for marriage, but have no idea that we’re only “playing pretend” because we have all of the wrong information. It’s a fine line between pretending and preparing, so it’s really easy to get these wires crossed. But don’t worry because, like always, I got you!
Pretending occurs when you base your relationship behaviors on myths, what you’ve seen on movies/tv, and what you assume from observing the relationships of others. It’s probably not your fault, but it’s up to you to find out the truth about relationships and how they work if you’re in it for the “real thing.”
Preparing occurs when you refuse to behave only from what you know about relationships, but instead attempt to learn what you don’t. This includes uncovering and discovering certain things about yourself: why you feel and do certain things in relationships, your issues and bad habits, and what you desire your relationship to be like.
The first thing you have to understand is that your success as a spouse is completely dependent on your success in your singleness. So if you one day want to be the spouse of someone’s dreams, then that’s something you need to begin preparing for now.
However, if you are preparing while currently in a relationship, you have to be VERY careful not to end up “playing house.” A person should not reap the benefits of a husband or wife without actually being one. BUT there are ways that you can practice these spouse-like qualities in your singleness or current relationship effectively.
It’s a proven fact that the issues and arguments in the most marriages revolve around 3 areas: sex, communication, and money. So these are the areas I’m going to zero in on.
Sex Pretending– Giving up the “treasure,” using it (or the hope of it happening) to influence certain actions Preparing-Having candid conversations about sexuality and actively learning more about your body and preferences
I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that we are all completely passed using sex for manipulation and boosting our self-esteem. And it should be reason enough that the Bible outright says that it’s wrong. (Read 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4 and Hebrews 13:4)
But for all of my “gray area” people (pick a side already), sex makes dating “complicated” because it was never meant to happen until marriage. Sex is too complex a thing to invite into the simplicity that dating should provide. The very people that complain about dating being hard are the main ones bringing the complexity into it (a.k.a.- giving up the treasure).
Sex in dating brings about an entirely different connection, both chemically and emotionally, that drastically impairs your ability to figure out whether or not this is the person you really could spend a lifetime with.
Sex will tell you they’re cuddly when they’re unhealthy. It’ll tell you they’re a free spirit when they have no self-control or discipline. It’ll tell you they’re funny when they’re immature. And it’ll tell you they’re ambitious when they’re really just narcissistic.
Have you ever broken up with someone and later on you realized that all the things that you thought were cute or didn’t seem like a big deal were actually a HUGE deal?! Then you think, “Whoa that could have been really bad a year or two in…”
God is a GENUIS for intending sex for marriage. It’s only after you learn the qualities, standards, morals, good and bad habits, and the purpose and future plans of someone that you should create a bond as strong as the one that comes with experiencing a person sexually.
Sex is NOT an area that you want many surprises in. Your spouse-to-be needs to learn who you are sexually, but that doesn’t mean that they need to physically experience it just yet.
It blows my mind that we can create cures for diseases and self-driving cars, but we can’t come up with better ways to learn someone sexually without actually having to do it. This reasoning is only a justification for doing what you want to do. (Umm hmm, you ain’t slick.)
What also blows my mind is the extent to which people, GROWN adults, are ignorant as to the functioning and processes of their bodies. If you don’t know the ins and outs of your own body (no pun intended *snickers behind hand*), then how do you expect to communicate what does and doesn’t work for you? How do you know what healthy and unhealthy sexual practices are?
Contrary to what many believe, marriage does not ruin your sex life. Most healthy couples have very active sex lives. But the mistake that a lot of people make is trying to learn sex by doing it when they haven’t first done their research. And even after you do your research you still have to determine your own sexual style and preferences in order to communicate and gain an understanding of someone else’s.
Nobody wants to commit their life to someone only to have bad sex. Prepare for success in this area now by taking the time to uncover your own negative and positive thoughts and behaviors when it comes to this area.
Money Pretending– Paying their bills or giving them money Preparing– Concentrating on improving your own financial status.
Money issues are a big deal in relationships because it affects your livelihood, your means of securing the necessities in life for yourselves and your children. While dating, we often want to prove that we can be “the answer” to all of our Bae’s problems, but it’s often more important to instead figure out why certain problems are occurring. And if you don’t have your coin all the way together, then there’s NO WAY you should even be considering giving something you don’t really have an overflow of to someone you’re only dating.
But again… giving you the benefit of the doubt… let’s say your finances are in perfect shape. If you’re dating with marriage in mind, then think about the fact that when you marry someone you marry their debt and spending habits as well. Instead of being so quick to give them money, offer to help them figure out where their financial issues are occurring and how to improve them. THAT’S what healthy spouses do: they teach, challenge, and mature each other. So unless you’re willing to cover for their financial deficits in the future, then don’t start now.
The idea is to marry your best friend, so if you really want to bless or meet a need for them financially, then here’s what I suggest: Think about your best friend (other than your Bae) and ask yourself this: Would I do it for my best friend and would I expect it back? Whatever the answer is, handle it that way with your significant other.
Communication Pretending– Talking too much or talking too little Preparing– Learning what your communication issues, strengths, and styles are
If you want to be in a relationship (a HEALTHY one) and eventually get married, then your communication needs to be ON POINT!! And before you think, “Oh I got that, talking is easy for me,” please understand that I’m not simply talking about the ability to communicate, I’m talking about the ability to communicate effectively. There’s a huge difference.
Some of us talk too much. What many people never learn is that the most important part of communicating effectively is listening. But this doesn’t mean to simply be quiet. There’s such a thing called active listening. This means that you aren’t just listening in order to respond back, but you listening in order to fully understand what the other person is saying to you.
While they are speaking, do not think about what you are going to say next: listen and understand. It’s okay to pause a moment after they finish speaking to soak in what was said and form your response afterwards (why are people so afraid of silence??). And it’s always a good idea to repeat what you understood from what they said so that there’s no confusion. Confusion during a conversation creates frustration and frustration creates anger. Anger creates words and actions that you’ll only regret later.
On the other hand, some of us need to speak up. Talking too much is actually better than talking too little. If you talk too much, then at least we can eventually gather the needed information to begin moving forward. But very little can be accomplished by holding all of your thoughts and feelings inside. The people who do this are often at higher risk of one day flying off the handle because of all the things left unsaid.
I had this issue myself, but I finally got healed from a disease called “people pleasing” and that issue cleared right on up! Still clearing up actually. I’m understanding that it’s a “daily deliverance” type of thing.
Get to the bottom of what it is that’s got you muzzled. Ask yourself: What’s the worst thing that can happen if I say exactly what’s on my mind and heart? Then ask what the best possible outcome could be. But at some point, you just have to push through whatever fear you have about it and speak up! Because if you don’t, you will either always get the short end of the stick in your relationship or you’ll have one very confused and frustrated boo.
Remember!! You can have the exact relationship that you dream of, but you have to do the work on you first. I hope these tips helped you to see the difference between playing pretend and actual preparation for when your dream comes true! (Whew, I feel all Disney-ish!)